By ANTHONY LABOR JR.
MILTON – Friday’s Division II quarterfinal between the No. 3 Milton and No. 6 Mt. St. Joseph boys basketball teams looked like it was going to be a competitive game through the first 10 minutes.
After trailing by eight, the Green Wave battled back to make it a one-point game with five minutes left in the second quarter. But the Yellowjackets took over from there, going on a 19-5 run and never looking back on the way to an 82-62 win to book their ticket to Barre Auditorium for the first time since 1994.
“It’s an amazing feeling working so hard for so long with the goal of making it to Barre, so it’s a good feeling to reach that goal,” said senior Tre Sherwood. “When they got it back to one point in the second quarter, we knew we had get the momentum back and keep it and that’s what we did. We had a great crowd out there behind us tonight, and it was such a great atmosphere out there and we have another great crowd like this at Barre.”
It was a complete team effort on the part of the Yellowjackets with eight players scoring and everyone contributing in one way or another in a big way.
Ian Jennings knocked in 27 points, including with five 3-pointers, along with 10 rebounds. Sherwood tallied 15 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three assists. Deven Creamer tallied 14 points to go along with seven rebounds and Seth Herrity chipped in six points with 11 assists.
“Our balance has been key for us all season long,” said Brown. “We got good contributions from our starters and then we also have players off the bench can come in and continue to play well, so that’s huge to have that balance and depth that we have shown.”
Along with the balanced attack from the players, Brown was quick to give credit to assistant coaches John Lafreniere and Mike Carrier.
“These coaches put a lot of time in preparing our team, which put our players in a good position to go out and execute today and they did that,” said Brown. “John did a great job scouting and came up with a great defensive plan for us today.”
Milton entered the second quarter leading 17-11 before the Green Wave went on a 7-2 run led by Logan Montilla (20 points).
It was all Milton the rest of the way with Jennings hitting three 3s during the 19-5 run to make it 40-28 at halftime.
“We got in a little slump in the second quarter when we were taking some bad shots,” said Brown. “We started taking better shots and hit some 3s during that run in the second, so that kind of gave us momentum and we took good shots the rest of the way.”
The Yellowjackets continued to pour it on in the third starting the second half on a 12-1 run in the first three minutes.
“We knew MSJ was a team of shooters, so we just had to make sure they didn’t get any open looks,” said Jennings. “We really just wanted to get to this point and get to Barre, and that really drove us all night long.”
Javante Sovey (5 rebounds) scored eight points for Milton, Tyler Farrar (3 rebounds, 2 steals) added seven, Andrew Harvey added three, and Sam Patterson (5 rebounds, 2 steals) scored two.
“Sam Patterson and Javante Sovey gave us great defensive energy tonight,” Brown said. “We also got some strong scoring from Sovey, Tyler Farrar and Andrew Harvey combining for 20 points. If I had to pick who played the best for us tonight, well, it’s an 8-way tie. Very proud of this team.”
The Yellowjackets will have a couple days off, as they await tonight’s quarterfinal between No. 2 Lake Region and No. 7 U-32 before learning who they will play in Wednesday’s semifinal.
They didn’t see either team during the regular season.
It is the first time Milton has been past the quarterfinals since 1994 when they fell in the semifinals.
“This is a huge feeling when you look up at all these great players that have been through this program,” said Sherwood. “To finally go back to Barre, it’s a great feeling that we are able to get back there.”